Wednesday 26 February 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus, Updates from 24-27 Feb

Current total cases 81270, lives lost 2771 (outside Chinese mainland 4072 total cases, 67 lives lost).

New UK figures for testing and results are published at 2pm each day. So far 7,132 people have been tested in the UK, of which 7,119 were confirmed negative and 15 positive (including 4 positives from Diamond Princess) - 8 people have recovered.

The UK has confirmed 2 new cases of COVID-19. One lives in Buxton, Derbyshire and contracted the virus in Tenerife, and the other had been on holiday in Northern Italy.
One patient has been taken to Royal Liverpool and the other to Royal Free Hospital in London.

Several countries have discovered their first casualty in the last few days - confirmed cases are now in 49 different countries and Diamond Princess (which has it's own category).

Borders are closing by the day and many countries will no longer accept visitors from China, Hong Kong, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy and other nations. If you are determined to travel - CHECK FIRST - and best of luck getting back as planned

WHO advice protect yourself from getting sick Wash your hands

Luxury Cruise News

The Diamond Princess continues to add to it's total. Currently 705 confirmed infected persons while on board, and 4 souls who have lost their lives. 35 people are seriously ill. There are also Coronavirus positive ex-passengers around the world, including 4 in the UK, 36 people in the U.S., 8 in Australia,  4 in Hong Kong and 2 in Israel.

The UK 

Schools and workplaces up and down the UK have been closed after pupils and employees returned from Italy and went back in on Monday after half term, some with cold symptoms. Now may not be the time to be so strict on attendance.

After an outbreak of cases across Northern Italy, visitors who return to the UK have been asked to stay home and self-quarantine if they feel ill, or just stay home anyway if you visited any of the following: Lombardy Region: Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano. Veneto Region: Vo’Euganeo.

Strange rumours 101:
If you are suspected of having COVID-19 do they test your acidity?
No they do not. They take a blood sample to look at your RNA - ribonucleic acid - it's a building block of the human body, like proteins or DNA - deoxyribonucleic acid.


China on Monday declared an immediate and “comprehensive” ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals. Thank you. Something we can all be pleased about.

For the last few days there's been something not quite right about China's new cases stats - again. Totals one day don't always match the previous day's figures and the day before last they reported only 5 deaths in all of China excluding Hubei. Their lockdowns you would hope would have an effect, but we are seeing provinces go from a steady case rate suddenly down to zero. There are rumours they've stopped testing, have run out of test kits or aren't including asymptomatic positives again, but no official word other than to say how great the decrease is. Everyone will start returning to work and school within the next fortnight...

On 26th Feb a nurse in China had had a heartbreaking letter begging for help published in The Lancet. Sadly the rest of the world probably now feels it has it's own problems and even if they did not, getting the Chinese authorities to accept help seems unlikely. The letter has now been taken down. 

The Rest Of The World

Sadly Iran doesn't appear to be doing too well. The Deputy Health Minister has been confirmed positive. New cases in Bahrain, Saudi, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Oman, and Iraq stem from visits to Iran and raise serious concern that the Coronavirius spreading across the Middle East is coming from inside the country. Iran currently officially has 245 cases and 26 succumbed, which does imply they have a good few more cases which haven't yet been identified. An epidemic modelling paper has been published suggesting a likely median of 23,070 cases exist within Iran (source below).

Spanish mainland, Greece, Romania, Denmark and Brazil have their first cases - all had just returned from Northern Italy. Visitors to Italy have also taken home Coronavirus to Albania and Switzerland, further strengthening the suggestion it has been spreading in Northern Italy for some time undetected. Total confirmed positive in Italy is now 528, with 14 lost souls.

South Korea now has 1,766 confirmed positive patients and 13 lives lost, and I think it's fair to say they're having a bad week. A lot of the cases stem from a Christian religious group who have passed it amongst themselves and unfortunately have a huge number of infected people. They have ingeniously set up drive-through testing stations, which must decrease risk and save time for everyone involved.

Unconfirmed reports from North Korea do look worrying. A Doctor who has previously worked there has stated he's been asked privately for protective equipment by doctors inside North Korea. They closed the border with China really early on, but suggestions are smugglers may be transporting the virus into the country. (Source below).

Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended entry for religious pilgrims wishing to visit Mecca and Medina, the two holiest sites in Islam, and banned entry for Umrah, in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19

Australia has activated 'Pandemic mode' - implementing their Emergency Response Plan.

The United States has only 60 cases of COVID-19, more than 36 of which came from the Diamond Princess and 14 were travel related. This is really impressive until you realise that this country of 331 million had at time of typing only tested 426 people. The 'leave the cat in the bag' policy is about to end as the CDC finally removed "have visited China in the last 2 weeks" from the United States testing criteria for Coronavirus. Those who can afford it or have the insurance coverage can now get tested for a mere $3000 (surely that counts as profiteering?). We may see a glut of cases over the next few days.

A bus tour guide in Japan who had COVID-19 in late January and recovered became ill and has been confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time. This is not what epidemiologists hoped for at all. Previously it was thought at worst the virus may possibly mutate in such a way that we could catch it again around 6 months later. This new information is very concerning. It could of course also indicate that the virus doesn't completely clear from the host and can reappear. Either way, it's not good news. The article also states 14% of recovered patients in Guangdong still tested positive but I believe this is an error and refers to the same fact as the WHO mentioned in the quote below (source below).

Whole World Information 

The WHO in their press conference yesterday said there was no evidence to suggest there were many people walking around spreading virus while asymptomatic. Anyone who read the previous paragraphs regarding Italy and Iran may not be entirely convinced. They are not yet ready to call the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, but it's clear that it is out of control in more than one area of the world, so it's the opinion of many that it is a pandemic in all but name.

In today's WHO press conference (27/02) 
"In Guangdong, 🇨🇳, scientists tested more than 320,000 samples from the community and only 0.14% were positive for #COVID19.
That suggests that containment is possible. 
Indeed, there are many countries that have done exactly that"- DrTedros"

Now is the time to remind you that this isn't a cold and it isn't flu, but is isn't a particularly deadly virus. Around 1 in 5 people with a positive diagnosis will become quite poorly, around 1 in 50 will die (best current estimates). Lots of people won't even feel ill enough to need a doctor. The main issue is that it is incredibly easy to pass on and around 20% of people will need some basic medical attention. This completely overwhelms medical facilities and staff. It's vital to adhere to any lockdowns or quarantines in order to slow the spread and ensure everyone has best access to the medical help they need, and the least number of people catch it before we have a vaccination and/or faster treatment.

We have some new petri-dish experiments to take over from Diamond Princess, this time it's holidaymakers on land, including a hotel in Tenerife with over 1000 occupants, after a French doctor who was there on holiday has tested positive. At least we know they all get windows this time. No word yet on what they intend to do next, but it looks like a lot of people will get an extra 14 days they weren't expecting in their hotel rooms...

Seasonal flu kills around 0.1% of people who catch it (1 in 1000). COVID-19 seems to have a mortality rate of between 0.7% and 2.3% (7-23 in 1000). It is foolish to suggest there aren't lots of people who are asymptomatic and therefore aren't included in this data, so the mortality rate could very easily be substantially lower.

Here are some very useful statistics from Worldometer, who keep real-time track of numbers and have published new tables breaking down all possible confirmed data so far. This chart details approximate risk of fatality in individuals with no underlying health conditions, based on government data from 71,000 Chinese cases:

COVID-19 Fatality Rate by AGE:
80+ years old - 14.8%
70-79 years old - 8.0%
60-69 years old - 3.6%
50-59 years old - 1.3%
40-49 years old - 0.4%
30-39 years old - 0.2%
20-29 years old - 0.2%
10-19 years old - 0.2%
0-9 years old - no fatalities
In general, relatively few cases are seen among children.

At the time of typing the WHO have not yet declared a pandemic, but there is now little doubt. Minimum criteria have been met and there are uncontrolled outbreaks in at least 2 distinct areas of the world. You won't panic, you know it's just a word. Don't become hung up on it. It has been inevitable for the last few weeks. Sit calmly while the money men flap about how much money is wiped off the value of things they never really owned, and wait for it to settle down.

If you must panic buy, the most you'll realistically need is 2 week's worth of toilet rolls, paracetamol and soup. Remember that stockpiling causes shortages and a vicious circle of panic buying and rationing. There is no point having 300 masks in your kitchen if no-one you know ever tests positive, or enough food to feed an army rotting while you only want a cup-a-soup.

Everything here is publicly searchable, obtained from trusted sources and confirmed unless clearly stated. This is purely a collation of information.



  1. My youngest girls school is one of the schools affected along with another 4 in our area. Some of the kids went on a skiing trip to Italy over half term and nearby schools have said self-quarantine for 14 days to the kids but my girls school have said the kids must go to school. It is so worrying especially since a couple of kids went home sick earlier on in the week.

    1. It's really hard to know what is the right move. Ideally we'd all (the entire world) go home and stay there for the next 4 weeks, and then we'd eliminate COVID-19 and could move on, but that's not feasible. Taking steps like closing schools when you don't have a positive case could prove over-the-top or it could prove sensible. Time will tell us that one. It's clear Northern Italy has exported a lot of cases though, so I'm surprised any school is happy to have the pupils in school.
      The good news is that children are very rarely ill, so if they were showing symptoms they still have a higher chance that they caught a cold.

  2. I do love your updates. It is good to gather the information and make informed and sensible choices. x

    1. I've always been a 'need-to-know' person and I know there are others out there who feel the same. It's a fine line between keeping people informed and scaring them, so comments like these let me know I'm not doing the latter! Thanks Susan :)


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I read every one and try my best to reply!